The ideas were varied and plentiful, which made Sunday’s Warfield Youth Forum a resounding success.
The goal was to bring the village’s youth together to help council create opportunities and programs geared towards young people in the community.
Warfield councillor Diane Langman, an organizer of the inaugural event, was impressed with how the forum unfolded.
“We feel this was successful,” she said, adding that now, it is time to build on the first forum. “We were capable of hearing not just the opinion of one small section (of the population) but a larger span.”
Some of the ideas brought to the table by the teenagers of Warfield included thoughts on outdoor recreation, volunteering and group activities.
“While many people believe that our youth are interested in nothing more than electronics and video games, the youth we spoke to were the opposite,” she said.
“Their ideas were based around being outdoors and helping their community through volunteerism. They are looking for new things to learn, for example, pottery, art classes and photography, and also a place where they can meet up.”
Shayna Carmichael was just one of many young people who took part in the forum.
She asked Warfield councillors to look at possibly putting a hot tub at the Warfield Pool.
“They could keep the Warfield pool open,” she said. “They could open in the winter.”
The 12-year-old was happy to go to the forum and thinks that adults should listen to kids a bit more often.
“I just thought it was a great idea to have the young people brought into the discussion,” she said. “Maybe something new could happen or they could have more things to work on and some different ideas.”
Carmichael’s mother, Leah, encouraged her kids to get involved at the forum and share their thoughts. “I kept telling my kids how amazing it is to have their voices heard by council,” she said. “To me, it is just amazing.”
The Grade 6 student says she would love to attend the next youth forum, and would even tell her friends about it.
One idea can be put into practice as soon as summer starts, explained Langman.
“One simple request, that we have already spoken to our recreation coordinator after the forum about, is doing a youth time at the pool,” she said.
“When asked if they use the pool, many said they no longer did because there were too many little kids in there. This is a simple thing that we can incorporate into our pool programming.”
Some of the other suggestions from forum attendees may take a little while to get off the ground, but Langman says that its all about giving kids more control over the planning and direction.
“One of the larger projects they want to see includes a pump track or biking track,” she said. “There are several locations that we, as a village, would be capable of building on this idea. The youth want this as a youth-driven program. I think it is important they take ownership.”
The next step for the Warfield Council is to start looking into making some of the bigger ideas a reality.
“From this point, we are going to start researching funding options available and start the grant writing process,” she said. “We want to allow these programs to become on-going, youth-driven programs in the village.”
Langman says the village will 100 per cent be looking at repeating this process as time goes on.
“Ideas and needs are always changing and this was a valuable way to hear from everyone,” she said.